Sunday, January 4, 2015

Applying for Texas Unemployment Benefits Online

Unemployment benefits in Texas are managed by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and in true, government website fashion, it's complicated and problematic. To begin, visit the Basics of Unemployment page and start your journey.

Common Mistake:
Believing that you paid into an unemployment benefits account while you were working. This is not true. Employer taxes pay for unemployment benefits.

The first time I was laid off, I didn't apply for unemployment because I felt like I didn't really need it but I was also mistaken in believing I was taking from others who needed it more. Not so! Our employers pay into the system so the benefits part is largely funded by them, not the state coffers.

I had a hard time figuring out if I would qualify since I did not work all of 2014. TWC calculates your base period as "the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the effective date of your initial claim."

Since I filed in January 2015, TWC would be looking at the total wages I earned from October 2013 through September 2014. This confused the hell out of me, but what it comes down to is this:
Your total base period wages are at least 37 times your weekly benefit amount.
The maximum weekly benefit amount is $465, which is what anyone working a professional job will get, meaning you have to have earned at least $17205 in that base period to qualify.

Your effective date, used to calculate when you will qualify to start receiving benefits, is the Sunday of the week in which you apply. Sign up ASAP because you cannot receive benefits for prior weeks, even if you were already unemployed. Today is the first Sunday after I was laid off and I tried to apply using the TWC online application.

First, you have to create an account with TWC. Next, you log in and complete the lengthy, multi-screen application that gets all your personal data and work history information. (It's confusing enough that TWC has provided an equally lengthy tutorial.)  I got all the way to the end, only to be greeted with an error message stating that I needed to call them to apply. Grrr... I'll have to call tomorrow (Monday) which means my benefits date will be pushed to January 11.

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